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Pictures: How teenager died 3 days after being beaten by guardian

THE police at the Homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan, are currently trying to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of a 15-year-old girl living with a mother of two at Oke Itunu area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

The guardian, 31-year-old Mrs Olufunmi Abdulahi, had reported at the Sango Police station on Monday 27 December, 2010 that the teenager, Abidemi Owolabi, who had been living with her for about three months fell from the staircase while she went to fetch water from the well in their compound downstairs. Mrs Abdulahi further told the police that when she discovered Abidemi in a lying position downstairs, she looked sickly, so she had to rush her to a nearby private hospital. The girl however died before they could get to the hospital.

Curiously, and contrary to the woman’s narration, the police observed marks of violence on the chest and head of the girl which raised the suspicion that Abidemi might have been brutalised. The corpse of the teenager was deposited at State Hospital, Adeoyo, while the woman was detained for interrogation. Her case was eventually transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department for further investigations.

Narrating the events that culminated in her detention, Mrs Abdulahi told Sunday Tribune that the deceased was like a sister to her because the girl’s mother is from the same town with her own mother and the elderly women were friends. She said further that Abidemi came into her household about three months ago and two weeks after, she put her in a secondary school at Eleiyele area so that she could continue her education which had stopped because her mother could not afford to sponsor her education any longer. Before Abidemi’s death, Mrs Abdulahi said she was in SS11.

According to the woman, “on December 24 when we returned from Lagos where my husband stays, I asked Abidemi to go and fetch water because the woman that used to do that for me was not around. I usually told her to wait till I would be around before she would fetch water as there is an elderly woman living in the flat on the ground floor with whom I had been having skirmishes. The woman used to pull a lot of trouble with me. So, on the evening of that day, I wanted to barb my son’s hair so I told Abidemi to go ahead with fetching water.

“When I came back, I saw the woman downstairs flashing light at Abidemi. I asked the girl what happened and she replied that as she passed by the front of the old woman’s flat to check if I was back, the old woman said she came to pour juju on the ground. Truly, I met the old woman and her husband with another Igbo tenant standing with Abidemi. I asked the old man what they said the girl did and he started shouting that the girl had come to pour the juju I gave her on the ground, insisting we must go to the community leader’s house to resolve the issue.

“I told them I was not going anywhere with them, showing people standing there the house key I was holding and my son whom I took to barb his hair. In anger, I broke the stem of a dried okro plant and used it to beat Abidemi, saying in the presence of all that I had warned her to avoid the old couple as much as possible. I poured away the water she had fetched in a bucket and dragged her upstairs. As I was taking her to our flat, she fell when she tripped on the soakaway slab. She stood up and we went upstairs.

“After we finished cooking that evening, I asked to go and take a shower. As she removed her clothes, I noticed that she had bruises on her arms and her mouth. I went to buy pain killing drugs and Gentian Violet to use on the bruises. After that, there was no problem and on December 27, three days after the incident,  we started cleaning the house in preparation for 2011. I was mopping the house and she went downstairs to fetch water to wash some clothes.

“When I finished mopping, I went to put the mop stick at the backyard and that was when I noticed Abidemi sprawled on the ground, half of her body on the staircase and half on the ground. The bucket she went with to fetch water was broken. I rushed to carry her and she was just moaning ‘Mummy, Mummy’. I checked her with my sphygmomanometer and still felt her pulse. I quickly rushed her to a nearby private hospital where I was told she had given up before we got there.

“I was advised to report at the police station and I went to Sango police station. I was asked whether I beat her and I replied I didn’t beat her that day. “

Sunday Tribune however called the suspect’s attention to the bruises noticed on Abidemi’s body  and she answered that the marks only became visible after her death. “I never had cause to beat her before then but only did what I did that day to pacify that old woman and her husband because it was when I took that action that they kept quiet. This girl was just two weeks old with me when I went to register her in a secondary school for her to continue her education. It was my wish that she made academic success so that I could also be proud of the fact that God used me for her,” she stated.

What if the death was the effect of the beating three days before the incident, especially as the girl fell when she angrily pushed her towards their flat? Mrs Abdulahi was asked.

She replied that she did not think so because Abidemi still went to their neighbour’s house the next day to fetch water and still did other house chores along with her till the day she died. The deceased did not display any sign of ill-health or pain, the suspect claimed.

However, a neighbour who craved anonymity told Sunday Tribune that the woman was well  known in that community as she had no good relationship with anyone. The source added that each time the suspect saw the girl discussing with anyone in the community or she came back late from an errand, she would beat her mercilessly.

A reliable source also hinted Sunday Tribune that the autopsy report indicated that the deceased sustained scalp haemorrhages from direct trauma to the head. There were also visible cut on the head and marks of beating on the body. “The injuries sustained from the assault on the deceased largely contributed to her death,” the source added.

Sunday Tribune gathered that the girl’s death generated a lot of problems between the father and the mother who were separated. Abidemi’s mother was reported to have had six children for the husband, out of which two were left with the man and four stayed with her. When she could no longer cope with taking care of them, relations took over the care of the children which led to Abidemi coming to stay with the Abdulahis. Abidemi’s father, on hearing about the death of his daughter, refused that the corpse be brought to him, asking the mother to bury her since she refused him access to the four children with her and kept him in the dark about their living condition. He however warned the woman to return his remaining three children with her to him.

The deceased girl was buried amidst tears on Tuesday January 4 while the suspect is with the police at the SCID still undergoing interrogation. The police boss in Oyo State, Mr Baba Adisa Bolanta however said that the police were waiting for the autopsy report which would assist in investigations, after which the case would be charged to court.

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Posted by on Jan 9 2011. Filed under Latest Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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